“Reason is the Enemy of Faith”

Churches post strange messages on their signs sometimes in east Tennessee. This one is no exception. Setting aside that it is true faith and reason are in conflict, we need to ask what message are they trying to convey here. At a glance, it seems obvious they choose faith over reason. But do they truly know the difference? How do they define Faith? Do they define faith as in Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The dictionary defines faith as:

  1. 1a:  allegiance to duty or a person :loyaltyb(1):fidelity to one’s promises (2):  sincerity of intentions

  2. 2a(1):  belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2):  belief in the traditional doctrines of a religionb(1):  firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2):  complete trust

  3. 3:  something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially:  a system of religious beliefs  ex. the Protestant faith

Most dictionaries define things in terms of their etymology and usage. So we will stick with this, because although the religious may mention a biblical definition the way they use it is closer to the dictionary. Faith is allegiance to an ideal which is used to justify actions without any other valid reason. Those who equate it with trust are misusing trust.

Trust is defined as:

a:assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

b:  one in which confidence is placed

Trust is defined with assured reliance and confidence. Something is only assuredly reliable when there is certainty and high confidence level. You increase your confidence level of something based on how reliably it works. If allegiance to an ideal is always reliable we would have no need for reason to make decisions.  Reason is defined as:

  • a statement or fact that explains why something is the way it is, why someone does, thinks, or says something, or why someone behaves a certain way

  • : a fact, condition, or situation that makes it proper or appropriate to do something, feel something, etc.

Reason is the way we come to  knowledge about an idea or action justifiably and reliably. This is counter to faith(loyalty to an idea). If one is simply loyal to an idea or dogma, and that is all that justifies their action or trust we have a problem. The problem comes with the flexibility of the idea. With religious faith or loyalty, the doctrines of which that faith derives are static. This makes it unreliable compared to reason. When you use reason the facts you use to come to knowledge or action can change. This change will alter your confidence level in what you do. For example, when you get in your car and put on your seatbelt you have a high confidence level that it will work properly and you can reasonably feel safe. You have this confidence level because it has been inspected and statistically has worked well. But if you get an email from your dealer about a factory recall due to seatbelt issues you will reasonably and justifiably lower your confidence level. If you have faith or loyalty to the idea that your seatbelt is safe the factory recall will have no effect on your confidence level and you may end up hurting because of it.

We can easily see that reason and faith are in conflict, and regardless of what these churches intended message is reason wins. Because if we don’t use reason over faith we may end up trusting our seatbelt even when it’s broken.